The coronavirus pandemic, of course, has become a top issue for voters, and it’s also shaping the way campaigns and elections are being held in 2020. While the Trump campaign has continued to put on in-person events to rally Republican Party faithful, the Believers for Biden outreach has focused on virtual events and discussions.
“I don’t think in-person events will affect mobilization per se, but these events seem to serve a purpose in reinforcing certain aspects of political identity,” said Daniel Bennett, chair of the political science department at John Brown University. “Specifically, those attending events like the Evangelicals for Trump event are telling the world they’re not afraid of COVID and won’t let a pandemic dampen their enthusiasm for the election. Biden faith events, being virtual, align with the Democratic narrative that the pandemic should be treated seriously.”
Evangelicals attending the Georgia event may have had their minds made up about Trump, but the rally urged them to become more involved in getting others to vote for him. “I felt like this was the last ‘charge’ I needed before the election,” said Roberts.
Kemp, the Republican governor who narrowly beat out Democrat Stacey Abrams in 2018, emphasized how individuals could make a big difference for Trump. He suggested attendees think of “10 people you know, from your church, your neighborhood” whom they might register to vote in Georgia. (“In person!” someone yelled from the audience.)
Two tables offered voter registration information, and another had voter guides from the Faith & Freedom Coalition. Like other voter mobilization efforts targeting Christians, the Faith & Freedom Coalition has had fewer opportunities to reach voters in-person now that many churches and community events remain on hold during the pandemic.
The coalition, which typically urges pastors to host a “Registration Sunday” with a voter registration booth in their church lobby, now also offers a video announcement with instructions for registering from home.
“Based on my research, activities in church like voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives are akin to small group activities run by a few for the benefit of many,” said Paul Djupe, a Denison University political scientist who has researched political activity by churches. “I suspect that such activities have collapsed during the pandemic, defaulting to online worship and little else.”
Djupe found that distributing voter guides—like the ones from the Faith & Freedom Coalition—was the most common get-out-the-vote effort by evangelical churches, whereas black Protestant congregations were more than twice as likely to hold voter registration events.
With 49 days to go before the election, Trump backers at Tuesday’s event disagreed over whether the president stands to win in a landslide or another close race, but many repeated the refrain that this was the most important election of their lifetimes. Eric Trump and Allen referenced the potential for additional Supreme Court appointments in the next term. Others expressed broader concerns about freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the economy being threatened under a Democratic administration.
“I did not get into this to be a politician. I’m a preacher … But I knew if I remained on the sideline and silent, and if all the preachers remained on the sideline and were silent, something was going to happen in the direction of this nation that could not ever be changed back again,” said Franklin, who leads Free Chapel in Gainesville, Georgia.
赤い帽子が水玉模様のように点在する群衆に向かって、牧師は礼拝で話すようにして閉会の挨拶を語る。BGMで流れているのは賛美歌「主のまことはくしきかな（Great Is Thy Faithfulness）」だ。
Speaking to rows dotted with telltale red baseball caps, with “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” playing in the background like an altar call, the pastor offered a closing charge.
“In every election, we have a responsibility to vote our faith. I don’t go in the booth and leave Jesus on the other side,” he said. “If we vote, we win. If we don’t vote, we lose.”